The Three Strikes Two-Step
John Phillip Sousa, master of the American military march and patriotic hymn, wrote "The National Game" (1925) in honor of the sport that he had played in childhood; the upbeat piece was seemingly late in coming, given his love of the game and the fact that his famous band had its own team, which formed around 1900.
The team is pictured in this sheet music written by A.W. Bauer, a former Sousa band member. All but one player is shown with the "Sousa" emblazoned on his chest; the fellow wearing the "Nassau" uniform is John Phillip Sousa Jr., a first baseman on Princeton University nine. The band successfully competed against military, semiprofessional and gentleman's clubs, and for several years, Sousa, in his fifties, would trade his conductor's baton for a ball and glove to pitch the opening inning.
In the 1920s, Sousa's band had so many ball-playing musicians that it could support two teams, leading to an intraband rivalry between the brass and woodwinds.